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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Spirit of Haida Gwai - Bill Reid

Modern international airports, as gateways to their respective countries, are generally decorated with works of art representative of their history and culture. But no airport that I've ever seen can match this magnificent work by Haida artist Bill Reid. It graces the Vancouver International Airport. Another casting is in the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. When both these buildings are long gone and we are all dust in the wind people will still marvel at this superb creation. It is called "The Spirit of Haida Gwai" and you can read about it on the Bill Reid Foundation website by clicking HERE.

For those of you who may be wondering what this has to do with Victoria, this blog now features on Saturdays photos I've taken in other parts of the world - "Somewhere Saturdays."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Highrock Park

Cold blustery rain in the mornings lately has been followed by clearing and brilliant blue skies. Here's what yesterday afternoon looked like on top of Highrock Park in Vic West. The brilliant blue Camas Lilies are just beginning to bloom but I'll wait until they peak in a few days before I show them here. They'll soon cover the slopes of this park with swathes of rich blue.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Elusive Harlequin

Here are the latest fruits of my pursuit of the shy Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) that have been occasionally hanging out along the shoreline of the West Bay Walkway. Generally as soon as they see me coming they start paddling away from the shore into deeper water. On this particular morning I was armed with a mid-range telephoto (Minolta 100-200mm zoom) and used a digital zoom feature on my Sony to double the magnification to the equivalent of 400mm. The result is a little fuzzy and dark (handheld and shooting into the sun) but is my best capture to date of these wonderfully colored and patterned little ducks. On the left is another characteristic of these sea ducks that makes them challenging to photograph. They spend a lot of time cruising with their heads under the water like snorkelers, just raising their heads for a second or two to take a breath from time to time and diving whenever they see something worth investigating more closely.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis)

Whenever I go up Mount Douglas in the spring I always keep a sharp lookout for Chocolate Lilies (Fritillaria affinis). The reason is that I always expect to see some since there is one plant, pictured above, that comes up every year very close to the summit. Yet every year it is the only one I see. The cold weather this spring has delayed blooming for many wildflowers and this one is no exception so, since I know of but one and the weather has been cold, all we get to see this year is the buds of this lovely little brown flower. (If any of my fellow Victorians know where I can see more of these, please let me know. Lewis J. Clark [Wild Flowers of British Columbia] says there a very vigorous variety at the mouth of the Goldstream River but I don't know that I will be able to get there this year.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

Saturday was a beautiful warm and sunny spring day and just as the forest floor is being carpeted with wildflowers, Victoria's Inner Harbour Causeway is blossoming with the performers and artists that make it such an interesting and entertaining place to visit. Victorians and visitors alike were strolling there on Saturday enjoying the music of Victoria's own famed one man band, Dave Harris (above), as well as other performers and displays by craftspeople and artists. It's the best place in the city for sitting back and watching the world pass by.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Whenever my Dad and I go out into the woods with our cameras, I always find it intriguing how two people, in the same place can end up taking such different pictures. His photo, "A Million Lilies" was taken at Mt. Doug Park and so was this one! We had headed off the trail into a boggy area where the skunk cabbage was blooming and the mud was thick, thick thick.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good bye Victoria

On a blustery day last week we threw caution to the wind and boarded the Coho ferry to Port Angeles. From the cafeteria I would run out onto the deck, snap a few pictures and then scurry back inside to my hot tea. This was taken from the starboard quarter (thank you Google) looking back at Victoria.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Somewhere Saturday" - West Africa

I mentioned yesterday that starting today I would feature some photos from places I have lived in or visited in the past. Since I spent about 15 years living in various West African countries many of my photos and reminiscences are of that area. Today's photo is of a beautiful Toucouleur woman in the midst of her family. I knew this family well and visited them several times in their village and stayed in their compound. Note the large gold earrings that are traditional amongst the Toucouleur women. Also note the baby peeking out from her back, another very typical sight. I chose this photo for my first post about West Africa because it is full of people looking peaceful and friendly and it was that which made my time in West Africa so interesting and rewarding. I mention this because for many people in the rest of the world Africa is synonymous with animals - lions, elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, etc. - rather than people. Most of these animals are found in modern times in East Africa. West Africa on the other hand is more characterized by dense human populations. In terms of population, the largest black nation on earth is in West Africa - Nigeria, with a population estimated at 154 million. West Africa has a fascinating history and hundreds of ethnic groups.
Above right is the village where the people in the top photo live. The houses are made of mud bricks and thatched with straw. I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to West Africa. It's a wonderful and little-known part of the world full of warm and friendly people. Tomorrow and Monday another new feature of this blog begins - photos and posts from another team member, my daughter, Fern Long.

I wrote about many of my African experiences in a book called "The Moon's Fireflies." You can buy a copy from if you would like to find out more about West Africa.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Million Lilies

Mount Douglas is covered with Giant White Fawn Lilies. In ranks and banks they dot the mountainside and line the trails, an orgy of blossom. The photo above shows only a small example of these splendid little wildflowers that are scattered wantonly throughout the park.

When I passed a thousand posts on this blog a little while ago I promised some changes and new directions. A few of these will start this weekend. Saturdays will now become "Somewhere Saturdays" meaning that I will post a photo from some place other than Victoria. Since I've spent much of my life in other countries I have many photos and memories that may provide a contrast to a steady diet of Victoria. Secondly, Sunday and Monday posts will be handled by my daughter, Fern Long, who posts under the name of the Front Street Gang. She contributed here while I was away in India recently and has agreed to these two days each week so I have time for other projects. Thus Victoria Daily Photo will now provide a bit of a window on the world on Somewhere Saturdays and a look at Victoria through another lens on Sundays and Mondays.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The weather has been clear and cold and although some of the spring flowers are appearing, spring is only just beginning. This photo, taken yesterday, gives a better idea of how far spring has progressed. Most of the trees are just showing a blush of green though some kinds have leafed out considerably. This is the view of the western side of the entrance to the Inner Harbour as seen from the Westsong Walkway. In the distance, center, is Work Point With the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula dimly visible in the distance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Urban Environment and Mindfulness

I am so happy to see the wildflowers announcing spring that I tend to forget I am in a very urban environment. So yesterday I took advantage of a very low tide to walk around underneath the footbridge on the West Bay Walkway and photograph its lovely arches. What does this have to do with mindfulness? Those of you who read this blog regularly may remember that I have been attempting for some time to capture a good photo of a particularly beautiful duck, the Harlequin Duck, which is generally as shy as it is attractive. I took about a dozen photos of this bridge but it wasn't until I got home and looked at the photos that I saw the pair of Harlequin Ducks swimming around only a short distance away from where I stood to take the photo above. You can see these elusive ducks in the lower left corner. This reminds me once again that I usually see not what is really there, but what I expect to see.

On the left is another reminder that despite its wealth of flora and fauna, the West Bay Walkway is part of the urban environment and as well as passing through woods and along the seashore, it skirts these towers and others like them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smallflower Woodland Star (Lithophragma parviflorum)

One of the challenges of photographing tiny little flowers like this one is that, perched on the top of slender stems, they are sensitive to the gentlest of breezes. With close-up macro photography such as this the slightest movement means a blurry photo. In years gone by I have simply given up on days when there were breezes. This year I've been experimenting with using higher iso settings that enable me to shoot using faster shutter speeds thus diminishing the problem of movement. The photo above was shot using the iso 800 setting. I find that with my camera (Sony Alpha 550) any higher iso setting results in too much noise for me. So, if youre wondering why there are so many close-ups of flowers lately it's because of this experimentation. I'm still working out how to get the depth of field I want, also. With a flower like this I actually wanted a greater depth of field (smaller aperture) to show a little more detail on the leaf that is visible lower down on the flower stem. But a smaller aperture would have meant a slower shutter speed and would probably have resulted in another blurry photo (I have dozens - I've spent two mornings in Highrock Park photographing this same little flower!). As it was I settled for f11 and a shutter speed of 125th of a second. This tiny flower is called the Smallflower Woodland Star (Lithophragma parviflorum), a lot of name for a very small flower but the name is very fitting. It's a member of the Saxifrage family.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saxe Point Park

Despite continuing cold temperatures (maybe it's just me still re-acclimatizing from my trip to India where the daily temp hovered around 30 degrees C.), spring is bursting out, though with some restraint. I went to Saxe Point Park for a walk yesterday to see if last year's eagle couple had re-occupied their nest and also to see what the state of the wildflowers was along the shoreline. There were a few Fawn Lilies and some Salmonberry blooms but most forest flowers are still awaiting the arrival of warmer weather. Nevertheless, just as I was leaving the park a shaft of sunlight drew my attention to this little flowering tree whose crisp white blossoms grace today's photo. Sorry, I haven't managed to identify this tree (yet). The eagle's nest is still atop a tall tree in the park but I didn't see any eagles.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Having just learned that yesterday's flowering plant was an invasive species called the Red Deadnettle, I decided to post another Highrock Park invader today, though these little blue and white blossoms seem innocent of any imperial intent. This is Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa). This patch comes up every year in the same place and probably escaped from a nearby garden some years ago.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This year I have decided to try to be a little more comprehensive when it comes to local wildflower blooms and include some of the less spectacular (smaller) flowering plants whenever possible. I like hairy plants and this one certainly qualifies. I don't know what it is but I'll find out and let you know soon. These are blooming in little patches all over Highrock Park, small plants about 6 inches high. Below is a patch mixed with Miner's Lettuce.Later...I've been through both of my field guides to local wildflowers without being able to make an identification of this plant. Any ideas?

Reader sonicmur identified this plant as the Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), native to Europe and Asia and classified here as an invasive species. Despite its similarity to true nettles this one is not related and has no sting, hence its name.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Early Bloomers 2

Also while on my first spring flowers walk in Highrock Park I found these Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii). These are named after "one of Oregon's most important early botanists," Louis Fourniquet Henderson.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Early Bloomers

I was a little afraid that my trip to India meant that I missed the splendid progression of wildflowers that blooms here in the spring. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured out yesterday to nearby Highrock Park, a little oasis of Garry Oak Ecosystem here in Vic West, to see how far along spring has gotten. I was happy to see that of the early bloomers, these lovely little lilies were most prominent and that the dense stands of deep blue Camas Lilies are yet to come. Today's photo is of the Giant White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum). I have featured these before in springs gone by. I have added the photo on the left to show the beautifully patterned leaves that give this lily its name. The brownish patterns are thought to resemble the dappled coats of fawns.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Blues 2

Here's another early favorite, the Common Bluebell. This one's more of a mauve than blue but they seem quite variable in color, some even a creamy white.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Blues

Always one of the first spring flowers and one of my favorites are these Grape Hyacinths. We seem to be having spring showers these days but I plan to pick up on more of the spring flowers later today.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Humayun's Tomb

I intended today to begin to catalog all the spring changes that have been bursting out during my absence but have not made it out to any of my favorite locations yet. It's raining and I have a little cold so here's another from India. Who could resist the framing provided by these wonderful arches? Beyond the arch is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Humayun's Tomb, in Delhi. Humayun was a Mughal emperor. The tomb was erected in 1565 by Humayun's grieving widow, Hamida Banu Begum. It is generally agreed to have been the precursor of the more famous Taj Mahal, erected about 67 years later.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lodi Gardens, Delhi, India

Greetings! Here I am back in Victoria after a quick jaunt to India. It wasn't a photographic excursion so I don't have many pictures to share. However the one above nicely encapsulates some of the outstanding aspects of my trip — beautiful sights and wonderful traveling companions. They are seated on the steps leading to the Bara Gumbad and looking towards the Sheesh Gumbad, two examples of 16th century Pashtun architecture found in the Lodi Gardens in Delhi, the capitol of India.

I've just been looking through the photos posted while I've been away and am glad I decided to arrange to let you see Victoria through another lens. My daugher, Fern Long, is a gifted photographer and artist and I am looking forward to seeing more of her work here. Thank you, Fern.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Parliment Buildings

On our way to Dairy Queen for a Friday night treat I pulled over on Bay Street to try to capture this iconic building just as the lights were turned on. My copilots were anxious to be on our way so it's not quite the shot I was hoping for but I still like it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Where is this?!

Okay, help me out folks, where did I take this picture? I know it's downtown Victoria but I just can't place where!
Also, please note; Benjamin Madison, our world traveller, should be home by now. Welcome home Dad! He will very likely take over again soon. A big thank you to everyone who follows this blog and has been kind enough to leave comments and encourage me in this endeavor, I have enjoyed myself and hope you have too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Top of Ole Smoky...

All covered in snow, I lost my true lover, From courtin too slow.

Well, it's not ole Smoky and there's no snow but the song came to mind when I was looking at these photos. This is Mt. Work Park and we had climbed to what we thought might be the peak but it was awfully hard to tell in the fog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

View Street Parkade

Parking in downtown Victoria, as in most cities I would guess, is always a challenge. The city operates several parkades and while most don't really have any redeeming features this is a bit of an exception. And the kids always think it's a thrill.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gonzales Beach

For a brief moment on Saturday the rain let up and we went for a walk on Gonzales Beach with the dogs. This is a lovely spot just off of Crescent Road in Fairfield. Although it was cold and wet there were lots of folks out enjoying the beach.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fan Tan Alley

This is one of my favorite spots in downtown Victoria. I always get my camera out and try to capture this interesting piece of the urban landscape, but alas, never to my complete satisfaction. Here is one of the many attempts!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bumblebee Paradise

This vacant lot is between Pandora and Johnson Street; a victim of the economy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Showers

April has started with lots of showers (fingers crossed about May flowers and all that) but it didn't stop these two walkers from enjoying the Galloping Goose Trail. This is the view from outside Caffe Fantastico on Harbour Road.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tail End of the Week

These two are not Victoria residents, they are Saltspring Island sheep but they happen to suit my mood today, it being FRIDAY! Long week and I'm looking forward to some time "grazing."